GFM Network News


Les Henry: Prairie soil moisture map for 2020

Soil moisture at freeze-up in 2019: a range of moisture across the Prairies

The 2019 crop year was a challenge for all involved in our industry. The erratic rainfall patterns also challenged the preparation of this soil moisture map. Let me first acknowledge the assistance of staff from Crop Intelligence by South Country Equipment. They have now had several years of experience installing weather stations accompanied by the […] Read more

The five principles of soil health

USDA researcher says healthy soil needs a systems approach

At the Regenerative Agriculture Forum in Brandon in November, Jay Fuhrer, soil health specialist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service of the USDA, spoke about soil health. Fuhrer has identified five principles of soil health, and how they work to improve soil health and increase productivity. Fuhrer defined soil health is defined as “the continued […] Read more


How biostimulants work to enhance plant growth

Q & A with Nutrien Ag Solutions

Q: What are biostimulants? A: As an agronomist, I’m often asked about new products. One area that has really emerged in the last decade is biostimulants. These are not fertilizers or pesticides, but a wide array of biological products that enhance plant growth. Biostimulants are substances or micro-organisms whose function, when applied to plants or […] Read more

An acre of such soil may have up to 1,000 lbs. of earthworms, 2,500 lbs. of fungi, 1,500 lbs. of bacteria and up to 1,000 lbs. of protozoa and insects — most fully active in June and July.

Understanding soil organic matter

Do you know your crop residues from your soil organic matter?

The word “organic,” just like “environmental” has become confusing over the last 20 or 30 years. Organic food for example? All the food we eat is organic (except salt or other minerals). All farming activities are environmental, but every misinformed urbanite calls him or herself an environmentalist. “Soil organic matter” is made up of a […] Read more


What was once a thin patch of grass rebounded nicely after pastured
poultry added nutrients to the soil.

Natural ways to improve soil quality

Cover crops may be more practical than molasses and milk

For many years there has been growing public concern that food is declining in nutrition. Dr. Arden Anderson, a favourite researcher, has studied the correlation between soil health and feed nutrition. His research has shown that the nutrient content of foods today compared to half a century ago ranges from 15 to 75 per cent […] Read more

There’s a new phos in town

TIMAC Agro is bringing a new type of phosphorus to Western Canada

When TIMAC Agro International’s Top Phos product was listed as a finalist in Ag in Motion’s Innovation Program, in the plant and soil science category, many western Canadian farmers were not familiar with the company. TIMAC Agro may be new to Canada, but it’s not a new company. “We are in 131 countries,” said TIMAC […] Read more


Spring runoff typically offers a great kick of moisture to get things started, but if things turn dry, where do you turn?

Les Henry: Water information in Western Canada is flowing nicely

Look to these sources for information on where to find water
 during dry spells

The past few years, growing-season rain on many Canadian Prairie farms has been much less than needed for a good crop. From 2005 to 2014 high snowfall plus much above-average rainfall provided more than enough moisture for crop growth. The excess rain and snow filled the soil and raised the water table by as much […] Read more

Soil testing pastures and hayfields

Q & A with Nutrien Ag Solutions

Q. Why should I soil test my pastures and hayfields? A. Soil testing pastures and hayfields should be routine. Often these fields get an initial fertilization and then, after a few years of establishment, growers ask what could be missing to maximize output. Forages are big users of nutrients. In hay crops much of the nutrients taken up are removed from the field when the […] Read more


The problems in Dwayne’s field were limited to a five-acre area, although soil tests showed a copper deficiency throughout the field.

Crop advisor casebook: Pigtailing barley presents a problem

A Crop Advisor's Solution from the July 16, 2019 issue of Grainews

Dwayne farms around 4,500 acres of red spring wheat, canola and malt barley near DeBolt, Alta. He gave me a call late last June because of a recurring problem in one of his barley fields. When visiting the field, I found some barley plants located in a concentrated area — around five acres — had […] Read more

The component parts of soil are normally called clay, silt and sand.

What’s in the ground under your crop?

What is half air by volume, 50 per cent oxygen by weight, and has the capacity to grow a crop?

Is it dirt, earth, mud, sand, clay, silt, muck? Yes, it’s all of these, but what really are Prairie soils made of? There are four basic types of Prairie soil: dark brown, black, dark grey and brown. Rainfall on these soils, the prime yield-limiting factor, ranges from around 11 to as much as 20 inches […] Read more